Wednesday, April 30, 2008

CSI-The Aviary Unit

I opened up my window this morning to find.... a perfect imprint of a bird - feathers and all - on the clear glass middle of the window. It's a large window, currently needing 4 drapery panels to cover it. But I never expected to find a bird imprint on it! It was a little disconcerting. I imagined the birdie CSI unit coming in and doing a chalk outline of the victim right there on my window. I took a few pictures, but the outline is white on a clear window, and just looks like a smudge in my pictures.

I looked down onto the patio, but saw no bird. I did a full sweep of the patio about half an hour later when I was downstairs, but still no bird. Hopefully it didn't die! I guess I could get some window decals if this keeps happening. Brandon would probably cry if he saw a bird hit our window and die. I might, too.

Random Day

84 degrees today with just 5% humidity. Can you say dry? My contact lenses were out by 2:00 pm! The kids are craving water, and just took their sippy cups down to the basement. It's been weird the last few days - very warm and dry. Most counties are on fire warning due to the higher temps and the crazy winds (seriously - it's like living on the northern California coast without the benefit of being near the ocean. The winds here can be fierce. Honestly, I regularly worry about my kids and groceries blowing away. I've never worried about a full shopping cart with 2 kids inside blowing away while I'm unlocking my car. But I do here! Now, back to your scheduled blog....).

Today - 84! Tomorrow. Maybe 42. With snow or rain. A storm is blowing in (doesn't that sound like a country song?). It's kind of nice right now. I have almost every window open, and all the inside doors are propped open (otherwise they'd blow shut, and I'd wonder what the noise was). We only had 3 functional screens at our rental - so white trash - so I feel empowered to open windows now that we have complete screens on all our windows! It's 70 degrees, but you wouldn't know it by the winds. Feels more like 60. I need to go turn off and drain the sprinklers, since the lows will be below freezing tonight.

Not much else happened today. I attended the brunch at Women to Women. It was nice, and I didn't feel like running out the door like I did at the last one. And we had a more filling meal than the soup we had last time. I'll never be skinny - I've accepted that. There are many reasons, and one of those reasons is because I want filling meals. Creamed soups as a main course, tasty as they are, really never fit that bill. That's what we had at the last brunch. Today I was a little too full, and didn't eat a lot. Hmmm.... what was I eating? I have no idea if I'll be attending this same Bible study in the fall, mostly due to the fact that I don't know if Brandon will be in morning or afternoon kindergarten. Morning class runs from 8:00 am to 10:45, so I won't be doing anything next year if he's in that one! The schedule is just awful! The school is very overcrowded this year, resulting in odd kindergarten schedules. But still, they could have done better.

Hope your day was as non-stressful as mine! This is such a blessed day. Nap time was a mess, but so far the rest of the day has gone well.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pool Time

Did I mention that Caitlin loves swimming? Earlier this month some friends invited us to go swimming at their local rec center, and Caitlin has not stopped talking about it. It's been about 3 weeks now, and she still mentions going "swimming the water and going down the slide(!)". The frequency has gone down, though, from 10 times a day to about 3. I only wish I was exaggerating. At least we knew that she had a good time!

Today we again headed over to the pool at the B-Town rec center. It's fairly new (less than 5 years old), and is a fun place. Brandon did 2 months of preschool there in the early learning center last summer. I'm not sure why I didn't think of going to the pool then. Oh yeah -now I remember - the thought of dealing with a crying, water-scared Brandon by myself, along with dealing with Caitlin at 18 months by myself, coupled with my own seemly perpetual exhaustion, didn't seem like a lot of fun. Now I know that Caitlin *loves* the water (she'd swim daily if she could), and Brandon is quickly growing out of his fear of water (and also his fear of just wearing swim trunks without a t-shirt). And, get this, he'll take a shower at the rec center after pool time is done. Now that's impressive. He hates showers!
Before heading out the pool

After pool time is done

The pool at the rec center is a feat of planning and engineering mastery at it's finest. It has an inner tube slide, a body slide, a butterfly toddler slide, a lazy river, a family hot tub, an adult hot tub, and a 3 lane lap pool, where lessons are also held. It also has varying depths from 0 feet 0 inches to 8 feet, and benches that run along the toddler area and family hot tub area. We start out at the kids area, where Brandon loves to go down the butterfly side, and tip over buckets of water onto his head from a huge fountain-esce structure designed for kids. Caitlin loves to walk in that area until she can't keep her head about water. Eventually this all leads to going around the underwater jet-propelled lazy river, in which you can't help but move. Caitlin at that point starts to tell me how much she wants to go down the body slide, which is a large, 2-story yellow chute slide. She has to ride on my lap, which requires many many trips upstairs. It's fun, though, and I'm glad she likes it. Brandon also likes the slide, but not to the same degree. He did go down 3 times with me today! I'm so proud of him. I've enrolled him in swimming lessons in June, so I hope he can handle it. It's at a different rec center, closer to home, which is not nearly as cool, so I hope he can handle that also!

View of the pool area
View of the 2 slides. The yellow one is the fav.

More views of the 2-story body slide.

Of course, no visit to the rec center is complete without a stop at the play area. This was the first play area the kids really liked, and one we went to frequently due to the hot Colorado summer!

Monday, April 28, 2008

I'm Twwwoooooo!

Caitlin's currently wandering around the house singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", except her version goes "Twinkle Twinkle Twinkle Star". I need to tape this and set it up with Brandon's version of the same song. His version, if I remember correctly, involved a lot of jumping up and down in his crib, and may included the use of a pacifier (always helpful when singing).

I haven't done any updates on the kids in a while, so I thought I'd let you in our some snippets of life with Caitlin. She's two years, 3 months. Just a month shy of being the same age Brandon was when she was born! Her vocabulary and speaking abilities are high. When I suggest reading books, a typical response might be "How 'bout "Wheels on the Bus," Mommy?" Or she goes to her bookcase, studies it for a moment, and brings me her hand-selected book. Sometimes she asks for books she doesn't see, so I know that she's usually looking for something specific. Caitlin also negotiates the finer points of breakfast, such as whether or not she's getting toast, fruit bars (cereal bars), or waffles, and whether I've put enough juice in her cup. I've known older kids who don't talk nearly as well as Caitlin. Brandon was the same way, so I just assume all kids this age can adequately converse with me, or tell me how they feel, or tell me if things are a little bit funny.

She has entered what I call the anorexic phase. She is still eating, but it's not much. Her palate is wide, but she vacillates between eating a lot or merely subsisting on air. Maybe that's why she's still mainly wearing the 18-24 month outfits? This is still the girl who gets excited when I cook garbanzo beans, broccoli or cauliflower, wants to eat whatever I eat (and usually off of my plate), and cannot contain herself when I get a salad at a restaurant, since she knows she gets all the tomatoes to herself (as mommy is not a fan of raw tomatoes). During this same phase Brandon ate huge amounts of yogurt. Caitlin eats veggies. Why is getting protein down my kids the hardest thing for me to do?

Other things Caitlin does with frequency:

  • climbs into and out of her crib (bed shopping is coming up soon!)
  • climbs on anything and everything she can
  • tells you that "I'm twoooooo!" whenever the discussion of age come up
  • constantly wants to "go swimming in the wa-der and go down the slide!" (usually uses a deeper voice when talking about the slide)
  • throws toys when she is mad at me
  • talks all the time. It starts as a running commentary on what she sees from the moment she gets up, even if she's half asleep
  • is only silent when she is sleeping
  • constantly wants all my attention
  • constantly wants to do things "all my by self!" That includes getting in and out of the car, the car seat, her booster seat at the table, getting dressed, and walking in public without holding my hand. She attempted to change her own diaper the other day. Luckily it wasn't messy, if you get my drift!
  • is a real pain at restaurants due to her refusal to sit still or to eat
  • wants to listen to or watch anything mentioning "The Wheels on the Bus". Would like it if I sang it to her every night before bed.
  • loves her brother, and wants to share all ideas and thoughts with him

She has her crazy, whiny moments (days) when I would like to trade her up for the silent model. Brian keeps telling me I can't do that. She can be sweet and endearing, like when she tells me "Been a long time since tell Brandon I love him," and then tears up. She says this when he's in school, so it's sweet and silly all at the same time. That's my girl!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Breathing a Sigh of Relief!

Today was the last session of my women's Bible study. I have to say that I breathed a sigh of relief on the way home today, as if a huge weight was lifted off of me. Next week is the end-of-the-year brunch, and then it's totally done! No more crazy Wednesdays! No more crazy Tuesday nights trying to get everything ready to go in the morning! I have loved the mother's groups and the Bible studies I've gone to over the years back in California, so hating this one took my by surprise. But it's done, now. And I've learned my lesson - don't share too much, even when asked, with people you don't really know.

I didn't go last week due to my friend Anni being in town, but felt compelled (convicted, really) to attend today. One of the women in the group was bemoaning the end of the semester, and how she'd have a void in her week now. I didn't agree. All I felt was pure glee! (But I kept it to myself). Over all it went pretty well today. I managed to keep my mouth shut during most of the study, which wasn't really a study at all. We brought pictures of our family, and then talked about how this study affected us. I didn't really like "Lies Women Believe". When one of the leaders asked me how this study affected me, my first thought was "Oh, gosh, where should I start?" With the fact that the Biblical truths were often skewed in this book? That the author mocks the women she is trying to change? Or that the marriage and family advice was written by a single woman who is not now and has not ever been married and has no children? My favorite parts? Let me just spit out a few:
  • The advice on how, if I should have to remove myself and/or my children from my husband if staying with him puts us in physical danger, that I "can-and must-maintain an attitude of reverence for [my] husband's position". I'm not sure I could maintain an attitude of reverence if the situation is so bad that I'm forced to leave.
  • How family planning methods are akin to abortion.
  • How the author compared her mother to Mary, mother of Jesus.
  • How I should never take action if my husband is passive.
  • How women entering the workforce/having a career has more or less lead to the decline of the modern family, and how a career woman's children now only eat frozen or fast food, and why many women are on welfare.
There is a lot of good in the book. It's just highly overshadowed by the author's strange interpretations of scripture, and how she presents her beliefs as facts. She's extremely convinced she's right, is fairly condescending, and isn't the best writer. One of my leaders told us several times that we weren't reading the book right. If everyone in this study is reading the same book and everyone is wondering why the author cited certain things, then it's time to fire the editor and get one that can decipher the author's intent and rewrite all the passages we interpreted incorrectly in a way that everyone can understand! As satisfying as it would be to tear up the book and shred it in my shredder, I think I'll just put it in the recycling bin next week. I usually donate books, but this one shouldn't be read by anyone else.

Then there was the whole anger management issue. That confused me, annoyed me, and threw my for a loop. I was so upset at the comments that I considered not returning. After much prayer I returned, only to have the same things said yet again, but in different words. It was so odd that people I don't really know, who don't really know me, feel the need to try and mend my situation. These people have very little idea what my last year has been like. Saying that I uprooted my family, moved 4 states away, and have lived in 3 houses in the last year sounds a lot easier than it really was. As far as I could tell, no one in my group was learning everything about their new place of residence from the ground up. I might have been the only person in our group who has ever moved to another state with children in tow. Everybody has bad days, but their comments were uncalled for. I do not have anger management issues that need therapy. And "anger" is not the reason I caught a lot of colds this winter (which amazing decreased once I stopped working in the nursery!). I can tell you this - I will never take another class taught by either one of these group leaders again. Ever. 

So today was our last, glorious day! All that's left is the brunch. Let's hope I survive it, since I wanted to run screaming from the last one! Despite my best efforts, I sometimes I think I'm not as much of a people person as I'd really like to be.

Monday, April 21, 2008

On Hating Trains

Today I waited at the train crossing for 15 minutes while a very slowly moving (read: excruciatingly slow) train crossed the tracks forwards, and then backwards. It had been such a good morning, too. Everything ran smoothy, just as it should. We were on time, and the train was completely off schedule! There is no train on the way to school at 8:00. I've run the route 3 times a week for the last 7 months, and there is no train!!! I've been trying to teach the kids not to call people "stupid". It may be true, but it's not a nice word. Today, however, I didn't make a move to stop either one them when they called the train "stupid". It was all I could do to not yell at the train for making us late! I hate it when I am late somewhere due to circumstances beyond my control. I have no problem being completely late all on my own - I don't need help! Yelling at the train isn't really setting a good example for my kids.

But it would make me feel better.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Week (Or So) In Review

It has been a crazy week, hence, no posts. I'll update you on my thrilling week, and then you'll be all caught up! Yeah!

Let's start out on Friday, the 11th. I was heading downstairs to give Caitlin a whoopin' (most likely a time-out, but the whiny phase she's been in is driving me absolutely bonkers). I slipped and fell down the stairs, spraining my foot. I wasn't exactly sure what I did at the time, but it hurt!! I was crying so much and so loudly that Caitlin was scared to come to me. She sat about 3 feet away from me bawling her eyes out. And she's the lucky one! She didn't get her whoopin'! I've heard that if you can bear weight on your foot, then it isn't broken. I was happy that I could hobble about, albeit slowly, and was able to get Brandon from preschool.

Come Saturday, 24 hours after my accident, my foot was black and blue in spots, and was swollen up like a grapefruit, and hard to walk on. The swelling was odd because it took so long. I started to wonder just what I'd done to it. Brian took my to Urgent Care, and I had all the normal x-rays done. I've gone through this sort of stuff a lot with my ankles, so I'm use to it. They were impressed that I'd been doing ibuprofen, ice, and had my foot wrapped in an Ace bandage. Turns out that I only sprained my foot. No big deal. Three hours and one painkiller prescription later I was able to go home. You'd think that my three hours at Urgent Care, spent mostly alone, would have been a nice respite from taking care of the kids. But it wasn't. I was exhausted and cranky when I got home, and had to finish organizing the office closet (the task I was doing when I had to go downstairs in the first place!)!

On Monday my friend Anni flew in for a visit. We've known each other since our college days, even though we didn't actually go to college together. We were both involved in Comedy Sportz, in one way or another, and met there. She became friends with me initially just to spite my boyfriend. He's history, and she's still around! Funny how things work out for the better. And, of all my friends, she's the one who would be most sympathetic to my sprained foot, seeing as she's no speedwalker, either! We made a funny pair, the two of us. Me, hobbling around, and her, having shortness of breath due to the altitude here (my town is at 5,420 feet officially, but our house is a bit higher than that). We were a lot of fun up at Estes Park, which is a small town about 45 minutes from here, and is at 7,500 feet. We had sun, wind, and then snow. Welcome to Colorado, land of schizophrenic weather. Monday was nice. Tuesday was 82 degrees. Wednesday got up to the mid 40's, maybe, and then fell back down to the 20's when the snow started. I think we got 3 inches. It was all melted the next day when we headed back to the airport to drop Anni off. She's on sabbatical, and headed off to the east coast. Hope it's warmer there! The kids missed you for a couple of days, by the way. "Where's Miss Anni?" was one of Caitlin's most oft used phrases on Thursday and Friday.

By the way, did you know that the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel and the book The Shining, by Stephen King, is located a mere 45 miles from here? If you come, and you're a Stephen King fan, I can take you there. The movie wasn't filmed at the hotel, but the mini-series was. The hotel isn't big, but it's very pretty, and has gorgeous views of the mountains. I took a few pictures. Click here to see them.

Friday I spent most of the afternoon at a friend's house. We sat in the living room while our boys and one I was watching ran around upstairs. The girls were with us, but playing nicely. It was a good move for a sprained-footed gimp such as myself, and a pregnant lady.

Saturday we did a MOPS and Pops Amazing Race event with one of my MOPS groups. It was fun. I couldn't run, but we had a good group. And our kids were at the babysitters! Woo hoo. Our team didn't do so well. But, for having never seen "The Amazing Race" on television, I got the hang of it pretty quick. And I had a good time. My foot was killing me later on in the evening, but the painkillers took care of that.

Other highlights of our week:
  • we got a Wii. It's fun! Brian wants to play it everyday, which is to be expected from a boy.
  • We got a new sofa for our living room, but it won't be in for another month.
  • Brandon and Caitlin really wanted to sleep in the same room, so we did it for 2 days. There is too much giggling when that happens, and Caitlin gets out of her crib to play with Brandon. I'm glad those days are done! Leads to much weeping and gnashing of teeth for mom and dad.
  • The sandbox is now complete. We are sweeping a lot! Sand and hardwood floors don't mix!
  • The snow has melted, returning our backyard to its normal mud/swamp state.

Now, I'm returning to my "normal" life, which involves nap times, time-outs, more Advil, and laundry. It's much more fun when my normal life gets interrupted!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's Next?

This is what I found when I came downstairs this afternoon:

I'm a little worried that he's into the Lands End models at such a young age, but I'm really hoping that he'll start organizing my cabinets and getting rid of all my clutter. Maybe he'll pick out the best lipgloss for me, too. "Real Simple" could come in real handy now!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How You Know You're the Parent of a 4-Year Old Boy

Here is the latest in Brandon's potty mouth rhymes. His retelling of "This Little Piggy":

This little piggy went to the poopy mart
This little piggy stayed dumb
This little piggy went to stinky Costco
And this little piggy said "poop"
And this little piggy went "wee, wee, wee.... fart!"

I just looooove hanging out with a little boy fascinated with poop and farting. The sad thing is that I've noticed is that fascination doesn't seem to go away with age in the male gender.........

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Having Fun with Friends

Went up to see my friend Janet today. We use to live by Janet and Rob back in California. They moved to Colorado about 5 years ago, and I never once thought that we'd be living near them again. They're about 45 minutes from our place, which is not that long of a drive (provided there is no school, and no one is screaming in the backseat). Brandon loves playing with Abbey, and occasionally Caitlin gets to join in on the action.

We set out today in blowing snow and fog. I think Coloradoans are scared of the fog, since it's always news when there is fog. And there are always accidents. But being a northern California coastal girl, I don't mind it. The blowing snow on the other hand - not so much fun. It wasn't too bad today. It's been warm - around 50 or so - for the last couple of days, so no snow stuck on the road. Except for one high bridge. The trucks were light, and I only got trapped behind a line of 6 18-wheelers on the way there. The kids were bored, even with listening to music. But if I have to hear "The Wheels on the Bus" one more time, I might just have to crash the car on purpose. Or shoot the CD player. Or break the CD.....

Brandon and Caitlin had a great time when we were there. Brandon didn't even run away from Lucy, Abbey's little shelty dog (who was pretty crazed from having to be in the house during the snowstorm). I even got to see little Sarah, who is only 3 weeks old. She's so little! 6 pound babies just don't run in our family. Caitlin was, of course, extremely jealous, saying "Mommy hold you!" (meaning Mommy hold ME!) whenever I held Sarah.

The kids kept running upstairs to Abbey's room, or down to the basement, which was just not a problem for us mommies. We were happy that they were happy, and also happy that we could talk in the living room without having to shout too much or correct some sort of child problem. Before I left I wanted to take a couple of pictures of the kids. Do you know how hard it is to get 3 rowdy kids to sit still on a bed? Yes, you do. Of course you do. Why did I ask? I managed to get them to sit still. Caitlin must be sitting closer to the edge of the bed since she looks bigger than the other kids. She felt like such a big girl! And then she got hot chocolate. Wow. It's been a big day for Caitlin.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Cat-head

I have received many e-mails inquiring about the nature of The Cat-head. After much prodding, I finally found out what the cat-head is.

Presenting ..... The Cat-head:

Disappointing, isn't it? You were expecting something better, weren't you? Hey, I was.

Why this is the cat-head, I'll never know. Because, it is most obviously, a bear. B-Bear, to be exact (we're not all that original in the P-4 household with our stuffed animal names). Anyway, Brandon told me that you put your finger in the loop on the top of the head, and then start twirling B-Bear around your finger. Thus, it becomes "The Cat-head." I'm not sure I'll ever understand the mind of a four year old.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Voices from the Basement

Brandon's voice, heard from the basement:

"Hey Caitlin. Come here, and let me show you how to swing the cat-head!"

We don't even own a cat.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

We Have a Sleeping Area

One of our requirements when we bought our house was that we have an area for guests. We love having guests, and want them to feel welcome when they stay here. Our guest area is in our finished basement, which also has it's own 3/4 bathroom. Our basement is a partial basement, though, which means it's about 200 square feet, or as big as a medium sized living room. Small for a basement around here (the first house we put an offer on has a 1,000 square foot basement!), but a nice bonus none-the-less. Since we only had enough furniture for our previous, 1300 square foot house, nothing has been down there except kiddo toys. And, really, the kids love having their toys there, and so do we (our house looks so much cleaner)!

Lately, though, I've been anxious about getting some furniture for the living room and some sort of sleeping piece for the basement. We've been here almost 6 months and I've been fine without them, and now I'm anxious? Go figure.... But thanks to my friend Phyllis, who recently moved to Colorado, I was introduced to the wonders of the daybed. I've known about them for years, and knew that they came with trundles. What I didn't know was that some trundles can expand upwards, putting the two mattresses at the same level. Viola! A king sized (or close to it) bed. When not in use, the trundle can fold back under the bed, making the day bed more like a sofa. Not only do we get a sofa in the basement, but our guests get a mattress. Of course, we still have our aerobed and other camping airbed, so we can accommodate several people at one time.

Currently, this is what our basement looks like (usually without Brandon having a picnic on the bed):

But now when you come, you get this (minus all of us on the bed, and with sheets and blankets, of course). You also get the basement to yourself, which is nice when you want a little privacy, and you get your own bathroom.
Or, we can break the twin beds apart, if you prefer sleeping alone. I have lots of blankets:
However, if you look the other way, you still see this (minus the one-legged Caitlin):
I still haven't managed to get the fully presentable house. I sometimes wonder if that's possible with little kids. Or with kids of any age. (???) But my house is comfy, and you're always welcome. The basement is cool in the summer, too, so it will be the "in" place to stay!